Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Can the Tea Partiers push back the tide of ever expanding government?
As Frederick Hayek and the great Austrian economists taught us, socialism in all forms -- be it the "International Socialism" of the Communists of the "National Socialism" of the Nazi Party -- is an attempt to extend politics into the economic realm. In order to create perfect equality or end class divisions or establish the 1000-year Reich or whatever the reformers are promising, it is necessary to take control of economic activity and once that happens, human freedom ends. After all, what has any radical reform movement been except a demand that says, "Give all power to the government and then give me control of the government." As Hayek wrote in one of the most significant sentences of the 20th century, "The person who advocates government planning of the economy always assumes that it is his plan that will be put into effect."
What we have been witnessing in this country, then, is a slow but steady erosion of individual freedom through the gradual centralization of everything in Washington. This has not been achieved by one big blow, like the Russian Revolution, but is the cumulative effect of a thousand little movements, each intent on achieving its own piece of "reform" by demanding that decision-making be centralized in order to accomplish their agenda. Each faction soon discovers that by bringing their small and perhaps even unpopular effort to the Capital, they can attain the greatest amount of leverage with the smallest amount of resources.
Look at the environmental movement. Environmentalism has always been an issue whose support is a mile wide but an inch deep. Everyone is in favor of clean air, clean water and protecting mother earth, but if it comes to paying an extra 50 cents for gasoline or buying a toilet that has to flush twice to do its job, support quickly evaporates. Therefore government mandates are necessary. I recall reading a book written in the early stages of environmentalism where the author was counseling his fellow nature lovers on how to grow their effort. "When we think of implementing an environmental agenda, our thoughts turn to government regulation," the writer said. "And when we think of government regulation, our thoughts naturally turn to Washington." No point in trying to persuade your fellow citizens. Just get down to Washington and start making law.
Ralph Nader was the first person of his generation to perceive this. When Nader started out in the early 1960s, the common career path for an ambitious young lawyer who wanted to enter politics was to go back to his hometown, start a legal practice, make a name for himself and run for town council around age 28. If things went well you could move up to the state legislature at 32 and run for Congress by 35. Then you could go to Washington and start influencing national policy.
Nader perceived that all this was unnecessary. All you needed was a law degree and a small office near the Capitol. Start poring over the Congressional Record. Target some small bureaucratic agency, broadcast the news that their lack of oversight was creating a "crisis" and you're on your way. The more you prove the agency isn't doing its job, the bigger it grows. And the bigger it has to grow, the easier target it becomes. Bring a lawsuit and pretty soon you may be running the agency yourself through court orders.
This has been America's history over the last half century. Failing to muster enough support at the grassroots level, thousands of political reform movements have found the best way to advance their agenda is to centralize decision-making in Washington and then concentrate their small but dedicated resources on dictating policy to the rest of the country.
So here, at last, is Tucker's Law: "The less support a group has for its agenda in the general population, the more intent it will be on centralizing authority so that its limited leverage will have the largest impact."
Where does the Tea Party fit into this? Very simple. The Tea Party is made up of people who have no special interests but only a general interest in moving decision-making out of Washington so they can go back to living normal lives. They are the antithesis of all the hundreds and thousands of special interests that have migrated to Washington over the past half-century. Their only interest is not to be bothered by Washington and not to have federal bureaucrats interfering with their lives.
All the Tea Party people I have ever met have been ordinary people who are already successful at something else. These are not people you usually meet in politics. What you almost always encounter are political junkies, hooked on elections, wedded to policy-wonking or crusading for their particular vision of the world. Tea Party activists are just the opposite. They already have careers as insurance agents, software engineers, furniture salesmen or small business owners. They never had any concern for politics -- or time for it -- until they realized Washington was taking nearly half their income and using it to drive the country toward national bankruptcy. That's when they decided to get involved.
All the statistics bear this out. Tea Party members are more successful than the general run of the population. They are more educated and have more income. They have very little political experience and no interest in expanding the government. They are "anti-politicians." This reverses a long tradition in American history going back to the early days of the Republic when Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, "In America there are so many ways of making a living that a man doesn't usually enter politics until he has failed at everything else."
Can such a movement succeed? Sadly, the career path of such reform efforts is drearily familiar. Time and time again, reformers from both parties have won election by preaching the virtues of small government, only to resume their place at the table and begin carving out their same portion. This has happened over and over.
Yet this time it feels different. The Tea Party is steeped in the traditions of the Founding Fathers and the American Revolution. One of the most powerful myths of that era was of George Washington as Cincinnatus, the Roman farmer who abandoned his fields to lead a successful defense of his country, then renounced his authority and returned to his plow only sixteen days later.
Can Tea Partiers save the Republic from bankruptcy and then return to their fields to resume their regular occupations? If they do the job right, they will find their ordinary lives waiting for them when they get back.
The Politics of Resentment
By Thomas Sowell
Few things have captured in microcosm what has gone so painfully wrong, where racial issues are concerned, like the recent election for mayor of Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, under whom the murder rate has gone down and the school children's test scores have gone up, was resoundingly defeated for re-election.
Nor was Mayor Fenty simply a passive beneficiary of the rising test scores and falling murder rates. He appointed Michelle Rhee as head of the school system and backed her as she fought the teachers' union and fired large numbers of ineffective teachers-- something considered impossible in most cities across the country.
Mayor Fenty also appointed the city's chief of police, Cathy Lanier, who has cracked down on hoodlumism, as well as crime. Either one of these achievements would made mayors local heroes in most other cities. Why then was he clobbered in the election?
One key fact tells much of the story: Mayor Fenty received more than 70 percent of the white vote in Washington. His opponent received more than 80 percent of the black vote.
Both men are black. But the head of the school system that he appointed is Asian and the chief of police is a white woman. More than that, most of the teachers who were fired were black. There were also bitter complaints that black contractors did not get as many of the contracts for doing business with the city as they expected.
In short, the mayor appointed the best people he could find, instead of running a racial patronage system, as a black mayor of a city with a black majority is apparently expected to. He also didn't spend as much time schmoozing with the folks as was expected. So what if he gave their children a better education and gave everybody a lower likelihood of being murdered?
The mayor's faults were political faults. He did his job, produced results and thought that this should be enough to get him re-elected. He refused to do polls and focus groups, and he ignored what his political advisers were warning him about.
No doubt Mayor Fenty is now a sadder and wiser man politically. While that may help him if he wants to pursue a political career, Adrian Fenty's career is not nearly as important as what his story tells us about the racial atmosphere in this country.
How did we reach the point where a city is so polarized that an overwhelming majority of the white vote goes to one candidate and the overwhelming majority of the black vote goes to the opposing candidate? How did we reach the point where black voters put racial patronage and racial symbolism above the education of their children and the safety of everyone?
There are many reasons but the trend is ominous. One key factor was the creation, back in the 1960s, of a whole government-supported industry of race hustling.
President Lyndon Johnson's "war on poverty"-- a war that we have lost, by the way-- bankrolled all kinds of local "leaders" and organizations with the taxpayers' money, in the name of community "participation" in shaping the policies of government. These "leaders" and community activists have had every reason to hype racial resentments and to make issues "us" against "them."
One of the largely untold stories of our time has been the story of how ACORN, Jesse Jackson and other community activists have been able to transfer billions of dollars from banks to their own organizations' causes, with the aid of the federal government, exemplified by the Community Reinvestment Act and its sequels.
Racial anger and racial resentments are the fuel that keeps this lucrative racket going. How surprised should anyone be that community activist groups have used mau-mau disruptions in banks and harassed both business and government officials in their homes?
Lyndon Johnson once said that it is not hard to do the right thing. What is hard is knowing what is right. We can give him credit for good intentions, so long as we remember what road is paved with good intentions.
Obama: Skepticism of government 'healthy': "Democratic leaders have repeatedly tried to cast "tea party" candidates as extremists, but President Obama on Monday said the movement exhibits some of the "healthy skepticism about government" that led to the American Revolution and that is now part of "our DNA." "I think there's also a noble tradition in the Republican and Democratic parties of saying that government should - should pay its way; that it shouldn't get so big that we're leaving debt to the next generation," Mr. Obama told a crowd gathered at the Newseum in Washington for a televised "Investing In America" town-hall meeting. "All those things, I think, are healthy." [He can talk the talk but can he walk the walk?]
GOP Senators filibuster repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”: "A Republican-led filibuster on Tuesday blocked efforts to repeal the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy on gays in the military, shelving an Obama administration priority at least until after the November election. The measure repealing the military policy banning gays from serving openly was part of the 2011 Defense authorization bill.”
Top economic adviser to leave White House: "President Barack Obama’s top economic adviser, Lawrence Summers, plans to leave the White House at the end of the year, a move that comes as the administration struggles to show an anxious public it’s making progress on the economy. While administration officials Tuesday quickly sought to paint the announcement as an expected development, Summers’ departure shakes up an economic team that has been under fire for its handling of the recovery.”
Yemen launches fierce offensive against al Qaeda: "Yemen has launched a wide-scale offensive against al Qaeda in the country’s southeastern province, a government official said Tuesday. The Yemeni government ‘dispatched forces backed by heavy weaponry, jets and choppers to surround a mountainous area,’ said the official, who asked for anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.”
IL: Jackson hit with new allegations about US Senate bid: "U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s long-held desire to become mayor of Chicago ran smack into the controversy over his last hot pursuit of a political prize when he was forced Tuesday again to deny allegations that he sought to buy a U.S. Senate seat. Adding to the troubles are revelations that a longtime political supporter told federal investigators he paid to fly a female ’social acquaintance’ of Jackson’s to Chicago at the congressman’s request.”
GOP moves to strip RINO of Energy post: "Senate Republicans on Tuesday moved to strip Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski of her post as top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, further punishing her as she mounts a write-in bid to try to hold onto her seat. Murkowski already has stepped down from her leadership role in the GOP caucus and could lose her Energy Committee position as soon as Wednesday if the 41-member Republican caucus votes to remove her in a secret ballot.”
SCOTUS clears way for execution : "The U.S. Supreme Court refused Tuesday to block the execution of a woman convicted of two hired killings, clearing the way for the state’s first execution of a woman in nearly a century. Teresa Lewis, 41, is scheduled to die by injection Thursday for providing sex and money to two men to kill her husband and stepson in October 2002 so she could collect on a quarter-million dollar insurance pay out.”
Judge to rule on lesbian’s return to US Air Force: "A lawyer for a decorated flight nurse discharged for being gay urged a federal judge Tuesday to reinstate her to the Air Force Reserve, and the judge indicated he might have no other choice. U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton said he would issue a ruling Friday in the closely watched case of former Maj. Margaret Witt. As her trial closed, he expressed strong doubts about government arguments seeking to have her dismissal upheld.”
My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena
List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)
The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 10:12 PM